Monthly Archives: August 2010

Blue Power Ranger David Yost: “I was called ‘faggot’ one too many times.”

Speaking of stories, David Yost, the original Blue Power Ranger, has opened up about why he left Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers in 1995. As you can tell by the title of this post, it’s not a happy story.

It breaks my heart that David went through that pain on the set and then suffered at the hands of the ex-gay industry. I’m so glad he’s in such a better place now, both personally and professionally.

David Yost then and now.
David Yost then and now.

(Big ups to No Pink Spandex for the interview.)

As David said in the video, if you find yourself in a dangerous place where you think you might hurt yourself, please know that you’re not alone. Call the Trevor Project at 1-866-4-U-TREVOR (1-866-488-7386). Their trained counselors will listen and they’ll help. I know it feels like you’re all alone sometimes, but trust me when I say that you aren’t.

I’m From Driftwood: I just love a good story.

The blog I’m From Driftwood has been an addiction of mine for a few months now, and it’s high time I pushed it onto you.

Nathan Manske started I’m From Driftwood less than two years ago with one fantastic purpose: “We will collect and share true LGBT stories in all 50 states [now internationally] to send a simple yet powerful message to LGBT youth: You are not alone.

I’ll link to just a few of the stories and then let you dig through the site on your own. Trust me, it’s easy to lose track of time at IFD.

Most of the stories are text pieces. Here’s one from Paul Richmond from Grove City, Ohio. The story about the time he met his hero is so touching that I keep coming back to it again and again. Here’s a snippet:

Arriving at this destination was no easy task. It began seven months prior when I was throwing a football in the back yard with my dad and sister one evening. My throws were known to flop around in the sky, suffering from intense seizures mid-air, and then falling limply to the ground several feet before reaching their target. This being a particularly bad day for me athletically, I made a simple proposal. “Dad,” I shouted. “If I can get this football to you, you have to take our family to Dollywood’s Grand Opening in April. Is it a deal?”

Dad, chuckling, agreed to the bet. Little did he know that now, I was a man with a mission. With gritted teeth and a flash of determination in my eyes, I shifted all my weight back to my right foot and then jumped forward as I released the ball. I almost fell flat on my face, but the ball bolted from my fingertips and dashed through the early evening air.

Seven months later, here we were.

If you didn't love Dolly before, you will when you read the rest of Paul's story.
If you didn't love Dolly before, you will when you read the rest of Paul's story.

My favorite way to find new IFD stories is with their interactive Google map. For some reason, it was exciting to zoom in on my state and see pins in cities and little towns that I’ve known all my life.

One growing section of I’m From Driftwood is the video stories. Here are two of my favorites. Scott’s is uplifting, while Zee’s will break your heart.

What the heck, here’s one more to end it on an up note. This one’s from comedian Dave Rubin, who co-hosts the podcast The Six Pack with masc jock Ben Harvey. The Six Pack is actually how I heard about IFD.

Whether you’re lesbian, trans, bi, gay, or an ally, consider submitting a story to IFD. Especially if you’re from a state that isn’t very well represented (right now there’s nothing on the map from Arkansas, Montana, Wyoming, North Carolina, Maine, or Vermont), and especially if you’re non-white or non-male, please make a special effort. Let all of our LGBT youth and adults know that they aren’t alone.

Ken Mehlman and Saul of Tarsus: Parallel Paths?

Acts 7:54-58; 8:1, 9:17-21 (NLT)

The Jewish leaders were infuriated by Stephen’s accusation, and they shook their fists at him in rage. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand. And he told them, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!”

Then they put their hands over their ears and began shouting. They rushed at him and dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. His accusers took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul.

Saul was one of the witnesses, and he agreed completely with the killing of Stephen.

[…] So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Instantly something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized. Afterward he ate some food and regained his strength.

Saul [also called Paul] stayed with the believers in Damascus for a few days. And immediately he began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is indeed the Son of God!”

All who heard him were amazed. “Isn’t this the same man who caused such devastation among Jesus’ followers in Jerusalem?” they asked. “And didn’t he come here to arrest them and take them in chains to the leading priests?”

Marc Ambinder, The Atlantic

Ken Mehlman, President Bush’s campaign manager in 2004 and a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, has told family and associates that he is gay.

GWB's 2004 Campaign Manager Ken Mehlman
GWB's 2004 Campaign Manager Ken Mehlman

Mehlman arrived at this conclusion about his identity fairly recently, he said in an interview. He agreed to answer a reporter’s questions, he said, because, now in private life, he wants to become an advocate for gay marriage and anticipated that questions would arise about his participation in a late-September fundraiser for the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), the group that supported the legal challenge to California’s ballot initiative against gay marriage, Proposition 8.

Mehlman’s leadership positions in the GOP came at a time when the party was stepping up its anti-gay activities — such as the distribution in West Virginia in 2006 of literature linking homosexuality to atheism, or the less-than-subtle, coded language in the party’s platform (“Attempts to redefine marriage in a single state or city could have serious consequences throughout the country…”). Mehlman said at the time that he could not, as an individual Republican, go against the party consensus. He was aware that Karl Rove, President Bush’s chief strategic adviser, had been working with Republicans to make sure that anti-gay initiatives and referenda would appear on November ballots in 2004 and 2006 to help Republicans.

Mehlman acknowledges that if he had publicly declared his sexuality sooner, he might have played a role in keeping the party from pushing an anti-gay agenda.

“It’s a legitimate question and one I understand,” Mehlman said. “I can’t change the fact that I wasn’t in this place personally when I was in politics, and I genuinely regret that. It was very hard, personally.” He asks of those who doubt his sincerity: “If they can’t offer support, at least offer understanding.”

Mehlman is the most powerful Republican in history to identify as gay.

Sometimes our worst enemies become our greatest advocates.

Keep that in mind as you debate whether we should accept Mehlman’s help, or the help of other high-profile anti-gays who come out of the closet in the coming years.

(P.S. Mike Rogers still has a 100% perfect record. When he says someone is gay, they’re gay.)

The Real Reason LGBT Rights Matter.

Note: I’m a terrible judge of my own stuff, but something I wrote on a message board as a reaction to another “Obama has a lot on his plate so just be patient” argument got a pretty good reaction, so I’m bringing to the blog. I’ve modified it for clarity and sourcing, and to clean up some mixed metaphors.

The most frustrating part of the fight for LGBT rights is that many people, both inside and outside the community, view it as a grab bag of issues. It isn’t. It’s One Issue with many moving parts, and it really doesn’t matter to me where we succeed first. The work will continue until the One Issue is completed, because in truth the One Issue is more than the sum of its parts.

There’s a reason LGBT people suffer depression and anxiety so much more often than straight people do. There’s a reason we’re twice as likely to suffer PTSD. There’s a reason our youth are three to seven times (depending on environment) more likely to die by suicide.

It’s no coincidence that our statistical 5-10% of the nation’s youth make up 20-40% of all homeless youth, that LGBT homeless youth are 56% more likely to abuse alcohol than straight homeless youth and 76% more likely to have been sexually assaulted.

Solving the One Issue has the side effect of bringing people back from the edge. That’s the real reason the fight is so important. It’s not about me getting married (I won’t) or joining the Marines (it is to laugh). It isn’t about me not getting a job because I’m a fag or being politely turned down for a loan or being turned away from a restaurant or being told my blood is tainted.

It’s about people knowing that they exist, that their lives are real and important, that their government won’t assault them, and that it actually considers them in the same way it considers their parents and siblings and friends. That One Issue is the keystone to all the others.

The U.S. government is, right now, today, harming us with its codified discrimination because people in the majority approve of it. I want that harm to cease, quite selfishly, because I’m one of those people being harmed and I know a lot of other people who are being harmed. And though it irks me to no end, I suppose I shouldn’t think too poorly of people, even those who think they’re our allies, for not wanting it to change badly enough because of their own selfishness.

That doesn’t mean, however, that I’m going to shut up and bow my head until that far off, imaginary, never-to-come day when people in the majority have everything they want and decide it’s okay to finally make the government stop harming people.

No sir.

Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach Seeks Restraining Order to Halt DADT Discharge

UPDATE: Rachel Maddow spent tonight’s entire show talking about DADT, including a segment with Lt. Col. Fehrenbach. See the end of the post for video.

We have news this evening (a billion blogs are calling it “breaking”) that attorneys for Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach, who was outed when he defended himself against false rape charges, have just requested a temporary restraining order to halt his imminent discharge. Fehrenbach got word last Wednesday that his discharge had been sent to the Secretary of the Air Force. That means his discharge is days, if not hours, away.

Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach
Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach

From the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network:

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) and Morrison & Foerster LLP (MoFo) filed a request for a temporary restraining order on behalf of their client, Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach, seeking to block the Air Force from discharging him under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), the discriminatory law barring gay and lesbian service members from serving openly and honestly. The filing in the United States District Court for the District of Idaho, seeks a court order preventing the Air Force from discharging Lt. Col. Fehrenbach, arguing that the government cannot establish that his continued service on active duty hinders “morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion.”

The General Counsel’s Office to the Secretary of the Air Force confirmed to MoFo and SLDN that the Air Force Personnel Board recently reviewed Lt. Col. Fehrenbach’s case and has sent a recommendation to Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley’s designee. According to Air Force regulations, had the Board recommended to retain Lt. Col. Fehrenbach no further action would have been required by the Secretary or his designee (AFI 36-3206 Chapter 6.10 and Chapter 6.10.1). Although SLDN and MoFo understand the Secretary has delegated his authority to act on the Board’s recommendation, Secretary Donley has the power to step in and retain Lt. Col. Fehrenbach. Without action by the Secretary, the Board’s recommendation is expected to stand and Lt. Col. Fehrenbach could be discharged within days.

A request for a temporary restraining order asks the court to prevent irreparable injury to the plaintiff and preserve the status quo until a more complete hearing can be held on the merits of the case. If the court grants the request, the Air Force will be prevented from discharging Lt. Col. Fehrenbach until a full hearing can be scheduled. The Fehrenbach case is among the first to challenge a discharge under DADT by applying the so-called Witt standard. In the case of Air Force Maj. Margaret Witt, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit – which governs the District of Idaho – held that discharging a service member violates the Constitution unless: (1) the government advances “an important governmental interest;” (2) the government shows the intrusion “upon the personal and private li[fe]” of a service member “significantly furthers that interest;” and (3) the government shows the intrusion is “necessary to further that interest.”

Fehrenbach is a many-times decorated 19-year veteran of the US Air Force, and on a personal note, a native of Dayton, Ohio, just a few miles from where I live. Fehrenbach has received nine commendations for 88 missions over the last two decades, including being hand picked to guard the skies over Washington, DC on September 11, 2001.

A statement tonight from Lt. Col. Fehrenbach:

“I have been waiting more than two years for the Air Force to do the right thing by letting me continue to proudly serve my country. To say that I’m disappointed with where things stand would be a monumental understatement — I am crushed. I have given my entire adult life to the Air Force that I love. I have deployed six times and risked my life for my country. In the two years that I’ve been sitting at my desk rather than inside my jet, I’ve offered to deploy numerous times. I’m ready, willing, and able to deploy tomorrow, but I’m barred from deployment, because of this unjust, discriminatory law. Meanwhile, moms and dads, sons and daughters, and my friends go back for the third, fourth, fifth deployments. While our country is engaged in two wars, my service is needed now more than ever.”

I don’t know if it should, but maybe money will give people a reason to give a damn. It is now less than a year before Lt. Col. Fehrenbach’s 20 year retirement. If discharged under DADT, he will lose $46,000 every year for the rest of his life. If he gets a less-than-honorable discharge, which by custom he will because he’s fought his discharge, he will lose an additional $80,000 in separation pay.

Lt. Col. Fehrenbach appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show tonight. Video of that interview, as well as the rest of the night’s DADT show, is embedded below.

Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

Eight Must-See Videos About The Prop 8 Decision

By the time I post this (I’m so lazy) most people will have heard about last week’s Prop 8 ruling. It’s a stunning ruling in both its language and its conclusion.

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The ruling contains 80 findings of fact and a conclusion of law which finds that Prop 8 violates both the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the 14th Amendment.

Like most people on both sides of the issue, I expected Judge Vaughn Walker to rule in our favor. There was, after all, a veritable mountain of evidence from the plaintiffs and a striking lack of credible evidence from the defendants. He surprised me, though, by ruling that Prop 8 is unconstitutional because of due process and equal protection. I expected one or the other, but never both. (Truth be told, I audibly gasped when I saw that.)

Rachel Maddow spent three segments on Thursday night discussing Judge Walker’s decision, and one the following night marveling at the decided lack of reaction from the Religious Right. I’ve embedded one below, followed by links to the other three.

Clip 2 | Clip 3 | Clip 4

David Boies, one of the attorneys leading the case against Prop 8, spoke at the Commonwealth Club in San Fransisco Thursday night. In this clip he discusses the history of state-sanctioned, codified anti-gay discrimination and the outlook of this case.

Then there were the Sunday talk shows. David Boies faced off against Family Research Council‘s Tony Perkins on Face the Nation. (You may recall last year when Mr. Perkins wanted the US to side with GWB’s “Axis of Evil” against gays.) Boies took Tony to the woodshed on this one by doing what most TV pundits are trained not to do: He called Tony a liar and then proved it.

Meanwhile, former Solicitor General Ted Olson, the other lead attorney on the case, had a must-see interview on FOX with Chris Wallace. Olson bluntly challenged Chris on his rhetoric and righted the discussion to the true issue at hand.

(Side note: Kudos to MSNBC on their video embedding. CBS and FOX are leagues behind them with the absolute worst embedding capabilities I’ve seen.)

Finally, Jon Stewart talked about the media reaction to Judge Walker’s ruling on the best newscast around, The Daily Show.

So yeah. It was an important week. We have a long way to go, and it’ll extend at least into 2011, but this will go down as a historic decision for the cause of civil rights.